Hasselbeck 'definitely' expects to return to Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. -- Matt Hasselbeck nodded his head and said "I do, definitely" expect to be asked back to the fallen Seahawks in 2010. That's even though he just set a career-high in interceptions.

Injured star left tackle Walter Jones and running back Julius Jones weren't so sure about their Seattle futures Monday. Neither were wide receiver Deion Branch, safety Deon Grant or guard Rob Sims.

Even outspoken T.J. Houshmandzadeh, whom the Seahawks signed to a five-year contract guaranteeing him $15 million only last spring, said "for all I know, I could be gone next year."

"You never know what's going to happen," the team's top wide receiver said.

Especially not this offseason in Seattle.

The best thing about the Seahawks' miserable 5-11 season is that it ended. The worst thing for Seattle? That's the same thing it said after last season.

Nine wins in two years have the former four-year kings of the NFC West without a president or general manager -- and with many questions.

Such as, how many fading veterans will be released?

"This year, more than other years, there's a lot of uncertainty," said Hasselbeck, who became Seattle's starting quarterback in 2001 and has outlasted three GMs since.

Even the identity of this offseason's top decision-maker remains unknown.

The Seahawks are still in an "internal auditing" stage of evaluating the franchise, which is 9-23 since its last playoff game 24 months ago and just completed its worst two-year run since 1992-93.

The team has declared just one GM candidate, Ruston Webster. He has been holding the job on an interim basis since Tim Ruskell was forced to resign on Dec. 3.

Whoever becomes the new personnel boss must decide Hasselbeck's immediate future. The 34-year-old threw 17 interceptions this season. He had 10 turnovers in the last four games, losses by a combined 123-37. The offense managed just four touchdowns in the final four weeks.

Hasselbeck described an "us-versus-them" environment between some players and Jim Mora's new coaching staff that was installing a new offense, plus new defense, in 2009. He said that created a lack of trust in the play-calling, the play-caller and teammates.

"The thing I would say is, when everyone feels like they are in it together and there's a trust factor there, it's just a way better working environment," Hasselbeck said.

Playing behind a broken and ineffective offensive line that is about two years overdue for an overhaul, Hasselbeck has battled a bad back, broken ribs, a sore throwing shoulder and banged thumb the last two seasons. He has one year and $5.75 million in base pay remaining on his contract, and Seattle has no one ready to become the next franchise quarterback -- perennial backup Seneca Wallace turns 32 this spring.

Asked about the uneasiness of not having a deal beyond 2010, Hasselbeck gave a so-what look. That's life in the NFL's world of non-guaranteed contract years.

"NFL contracts could be for 12 years, but if you don't play well for one year or they don't want you, they can get rid of you. They don't owe you anything," said Hasselbeck, whose completion rate this season of 60 percent was on par with his career average, but whose 17 touchdowns were his fewest in a season in which he had started a dozen games since that first year of 2001.

"So every year you are being evaluated," he said.

"I know what I've got to do. I've got to rest up a little bit, get stronger -- and get back to myself, which is something I think I can do this year."

Hasselbeck hasn't felt himself since 2007, his last relatively healthy year.


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It's been longer than that for Julius Jones and Branch, the former Super Bowl MVP who said he'd like to retire as a Seahawk but added "I can't control that."

Jones again lost playing time in 2009 as Seattle's running game sunk to 26th in the league. It was the first time in new play-caller Greg Knapp's nine years as an offensive coordinator that his team didn't finish in the league's top 10 in rushing.

Jones gained 663 yards and averaged 3.7 yards per carry. Justin Forsett, four years younger than the 28-year-old Jones, averaged 5.4 yards per carry while gaining 619 yards. The more versatile Forsett's four touchdowns doubled Jones' total.

Jones has four scores in two years in Seattle. Will he be back?

"I don't know," he said. "I'd like to be here. Who knows?"

The defensive line is likely to join the offensive line in changing. Fading veteran Patrick Kerney may leave along with Cory Redding, who had two sacks in 15 games and little impact after arriving from Detroit last spring in a trade for linebacker Julian Peterson.

Nate Burleson could become a free agent. But the 28-year-old wide receiver, punt returner and Seahawk since 2006 expects to return and wants this to be his last team.

"Unless something drastic happens, I'm pretty much 100-percent certain (I'll be back)," the Seattle native said.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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